It had been just over a year since Avery Williamson was in his familiar spot in the middle of the Jets defense.
That is where Williamson was Sunday, participating fully in practice for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee on Aug. 15, 2019. The injury that night in a preseason game in Atlanta cost Williamson the entire 2019 season and put him on a path of rehabilitation for most of the last year.
“It’s been a long journey, definitely,” Williamson said Sunday. “From that point, I didn’t realize the amount of work I was going to have to put in to get back to this point, get back to my old self. I thought it was going to be a lot faster. I thought I was going to be running by December. Everybody’s different. I just wasn’t healing as fast as I thought I would.”
Williamson said he did not feel like himself again until May. He opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list as the Jets made sure he was in shape before putting him back into full-speed practices. He came off the PUP list on Saturday, did some individual drills but watched the team period. Then, Sunday he was in during the team portion of practice, working with the second-team defense.
“In practice, you’re going to find out real quick how good it’s doing,” Williamson said. “I didn’t feel any pain today. I pretty much did everything from a perspective of pass to run. It’s feeling great. I’m just going to have to keep on improving and getting in shape at this point. My knee’s healthy.”
The plan is to have the 28-year-old increase his workload as camp goes on and he surely will regain his starting spot soon. After missing last season, Williamson said he knows he needs to impress this coaching staff.
“I definitely feel like I’ve got to prove myself. That’s every year,” Williamson said. “There’s always going to be competition, guys trying to take your spot. Me missing a year, the guys last year they played well. I give them credit. They definitely played well. I’ve just got to come and make up ground and make sure that I’m on point, make sure I know the playbook thoroughly and make sure when I get my opportunities that I make them count.”
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